Travel planning can seem like a maze. By their very nature, guidebooks send readers to similar destinations. Web searches often return a jumble of unhelpful content.
Some tech-savvy travellers are using chatbots with artificial intelligence, such as ChatGPT or Bard, to plan and inspire their vacations. They treat these services, like on-demand, free travel agents.
“I like the idea of ChatGPT, because it provides a clear list,” says Alpa Ptel, a New York-based traveler.
Patel is planning to take his family on a trip to Edinburgh in Scotland this summer. She was frustrated by the generic travel sites provided by Google. So she thought: why not contact ChatGPT to get some expert advice?
I started by looking at the top places to stay. It gave me the list of the most desirable neighborhoods and hotels. Patel says, “I actually chose my hotel from that list.”
Select your preferred
Patel found that AI chatbots such as ChatGPT are useful in travel planning because they can customize the responses.
Google gave her endless suggestions for Scotland’s Highlands. However, Patel was concerned that the younger Patel son would get carsick and it wouldn’t be possible for him to drive for hours to reach this destination. ChatGPT provided her with a number of reasonable options.
She says, “I asked very specifically: ‘What day trips are there for a child with car sickness’ and it came up some suggestions of places you can go by train.”
Steven Kreimendahl (co-founder of Travel to Blank) was planning to visit Japan with his wife, mother-in law and daughter in spring. He used ChatGPT to get personalized suggestions to take into account the different styles that the three people had.
Kreimendahl explains, “My wife loves to travel all day while my mother in law prefers slower forms of traveling.” I gave ChatGPT all the details and left it to run.
The traditional way of finding travel inspiration is not the best method to use. Travelers must be creative to find their interests. For example, they may want to know about 1950s architecture of New York City, or where to get the best Tonkotsu Ramen in Ginza. Instead of reading through a list, AI chatbots allow you to input your preferences.
Kreimendahl affirms that the more details you provide, the more likely it is to be a positive response.
Verify by pushing back and checking
Artificial intelligence models are not as sensitive to their emotions as real experts. It’s fine to reject ideas that you dislike – in fact it is encouraged.
Web search results are reset every time a new query is entered, but the models that power chatbots allow them to carry out long-term conversations. They can remember and respond to feedback and questions throughout.
Kreimendahl cites ChatGPT as a recommendation of a multiday schedule. Don’t hesitate to ask more detailed questions .”
These models can be great for generating simple ideas or answering questions. However, they should not be taken to mean that what they are saying is true. ChatGPT is, for instance, based on historic information that goes up until 2021. You can’t expect to find the most recent details with it, as you would do with Google. Chatbots may suggest a restaurant which closed down during the pandemic, or train lines that aren’t operating on your dates of travel.
As an example, Kreimendahl visited Japan during the cherry blossom season. ChatGPT did not know this.
ChatGPT and other AI chatbots may seem to be technological wizards but their capabilities are still limited. You can’t expect it to book your reservation for a recommended restaurant or know the current prices of flights to Dubai.
Some travel agencies are working to integrate AI chatbots into the booking process. Expedia has recently integrated ChatGPT with its Expedia App.
The integrations of these apps are still in the early stages, and travelers must do their own booking. The fun in using AI chatbots is the collaboration they encourage and the innovative ideas that they generate.
Patel says, “It is the concept stage.” It’s inspiring me to dig deeper.
The original publication of this article by The Associated Press was by NerdWallet.
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